Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Out of our comfort zones

MUCH OF THE Bible seems to consist of God drawing people out of their comfort zones into living uncomfortably, awkwardly—which is kind of unfortunate for those of us who like safety, security and predictability.

Now, there are two kinds of comfort zones. Those we establish for ourselves, within which we feel at ease—the safe limits we set on what we think we can or should do. And then there are those that others establish for us. Namely, the ways they need us to behave for them to feel OK.

Both kinds of comfort zones got upturned once when Jesus was leaving Jericho. Two blind men heard He was passing by and began to call out, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” But, we read in John 20, the crowd told them to shush—which only prompted them to cry out even more loudly.

Hearing them, Jesus stopped and asked what they wanted Him to do for them. John 20:33–34 reads: “They said to him, ‘Lord, let our eyes be opened.’ And Jesus in pity touched their eyes, and immediately they recovered their sight and followed him.”

Two things stand out to me here—first, how the blind men’s desire for more of Jesus overrode their willingness to confirm to the societal niceties. They were more concerned about encountering Him than toeing the line, sitting quietly by and settling for handouts. And that led to a life-changing experience for them.

But it didn’t end there, surely. Mustn’t some of those who tut-tutted and told the blind men to behave nicely have been blown away just a few minutes later when they saw a miracle occur in front of them? Isn’t it likely that some of them became followers of Jesus, just as the two blind men did?

I can’t help but wonder what might happen if more of us who name Jesus as Savior had a similar attitude. I’m not talking about being contrary and upsetting the apple cart for the sake of it, but being more compelled by a desire for more of God than behaving “respectably.”

It makes me think of the time when Jesus returned to Bethany after the death of His dear friend, Lazarus. When He told the people to roll the stone away from Lazarus’s tomb, Martha demurred. Her brother had been dead four days, she said. “There will be an odor” (John 11:39).

Now, this was someone who knew Jesus had performed miracles, and yet when He called her to be part of something that seemed impossible, her response was, “I’m not going to do that, because it will cause a stink” (literally).

How many times have we responded the same way, missing the opportunity to be part of a miracle that may come when we step out of our comfort zone?

That was my New Year’s challenge to our church this week; you can see more here.

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